A complex office fit out in an iconic building

Q: How do you create a viable future for an unappreciated yet iconic, 90 year old Grade II listed building in the heart of Liverpool?

A: Bring together a team of professionals to tenderly restore its iconic architectural features and create a flexible, efficient and inclusive central office hub for 4,000 Government employees.

Project partners

  • Turner and Townsend
  • Ryder Architecture
  • Ward Robinson
  • Legal and General
  • TFT Consultants
  • FCH Architects

Project description

The fit out of the stunning, iconic 1930s India Buildings in the heart of Liverpool's business district was a challenge like no other.

The pressures of fitting out a Grade II* listed building with asbestos, lead paint and structural issues would have presented a challenge under normal circumstances. However the complexity intensified as our involvement increased from the original Cat B fit out contract to also delivering a simultaneous fast-tracked Cat A project.

Deep pride in historic buildings

No single element of the fit out was undertaken without considering how to sensitively retain and enhance the existing fabric of the building. We became deeply entrenched in the conservation principles, and were proud to manage the loving restoration process of the building's heritage features to their former glory.

From an unusable shell, we oversaw the refurbishment of the lime plaster ceilings and glazed tiles. We undertook specialist paint and stonework repairs and enhanced the historic doors and ironmongery around the stunning arcade shopfronts. It was a fundamental requirement to install new bulkheads to house the heating and cooling services with the lowest possible impact on the historic circulation routes.

Flexible fit out based on need - not status

Whatever the work style of the 4,000 employees, the fit out required the offices to provide diverse and suitable spaces. Whether focused on quiet tasks, engrossed in discussions with colleagues or simply relaxing with a bite to eat and drink, the project delivered suitable, comfortable and modern spaces.

India Buildings is now a true agile workplace offering 'approach and use' spaces for ad-hoc team get-togethers; free standing meeting pods; and larger community areas within the breath-taking Regency Suite and Holts arcade.

A high bar set for employees spirits

The occupier’s accessibility, diversity and wellbeing standards were demanding and were rooted in the British Council for Offices (BCO) design guidelines.

Whilst accommodating the required adaptations was business as normal from a fit out perspective, operating within the constraints of Grade II listing requirements of the India Buildings meant we were faced with many operational challenges.

From a lowered reception desk, to the width of all doors and their powered openers, the fit out has catered for wheelchair users. Neurodivergent needs are accommodated through spaces where visual and tactile distractions are minimised. Gender neutral WCs and showers are integral alongside reflection spaces, WUDU (wash facilities before Islamic prayer) and healthcare rooms. The fit out has created a modern workplace that is truly inclusive.

Natural light floods the space delivered through central lightwells and modern replacement skylights. Extensive biophilia with outdoor graphic images have been installed to reduce employee stress and contribute to a natural sense of wellbeing.

We installed a basement cycle hub to promote cycling to work alongside accessible parking spaces and EV charging points.

Sustainability through quality and technology

The environment was at the forefront of the scheme from end to end and the result exceeds standard environmental benchmarks through the building's 'B' EPC and BREEAM 'Very Good' rating.

Operational and embodied carbon emissions were assessed and measured throughout the entire project to minimise the fit out's environmental impact. We installed the latest technologies and improved insulation through roof spaces and new glazing. We replaced oil boilers with a low carbon solution for heating and cooling and created ten local zones which control their own conditions.

Intelligent and highly efficient LED lighting which incorporated the heritage lighting and harvested daylight was an important element of the fit out. This enhanced the human experience as well as energy efficiency.

The entire building required new installation of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems. We refurbished the existing lifts and installed five additional ones.

Social benefits stretching far and wide

The benefits of the scheme have been felt more widely than just the building and its employees. It has put this business district of Liverpool's heritage firmly back on the map, creating an economic boost for local businesses and the wider city. The occupier’s presence and the vibrancy of 4,000 employees has created a lasting legacy of a thriving local community.

We are proud of Overbury's role in this exciting truly collaborative project which is injecting new life and energy into the heart of Liverpool.

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